Student-led food drive lacks donations

About 40 items were donated so far, but students hope to raise hunger awareness.

by Amber Schadewald

A few cans of soup and packages of Ramen noodles might not seem like much, but one student group hopes a small food drive can make a big difference.

The Student Association for Nonprofit Enterprise, a student organization affiliated with the Carlson School of Management, has partnered with Second Harvest Heartland for the first Harvest of Gold Food Drive.

Second Harvest Heartland is a nonprofit organization that provides food to more than 169,000 people each month in 41 Minnesota counties and 18 Wisconsin counties.

All week, the student association will have a table set up in Carlson to collect food, which Second Harvest Heartland will distribute.

By Tuesday afternoon, the boxes contained about 40 food items, but association president Lisa Weitekamp, an operations and international business junior, predicted more people would donate later in the week.

Tom Dobberke, human resources junior and association member, said he’s optimistic about the food drive but noted that it is the first time the group has put on this type of program.

“Even if there is not as much participation as we’d like, it’s still raising food and hunger awareness,” he said.

The small scale of a food drive might have some wondering if their donation of canned corn is even worth the effort.

But, between 2001 and 2005, the number of food shelf visitors increased by 45 percent, said Newell Searle, vice president of external relations at Second Harvest Heartland.

By itself, a food drive doesn’t do much to fix the problem of hunger, Searle said. The physical act of holding a food drive, on the other hand, is a great tool to connect people with the cause, he said.

“The food drive reminds people to be mindful,” he said. “It’s building a link between the donor and the people who need help.”

Searle said he hopes this event inspires students to become more involved – not only by putting on more food drives, but also fund drives.

Organizations like Second Harvest Heartland have leverage and can distribute $9 of food for every dollar that is donated, he said.

The Harvest of Gold food drive accepts both food and monetary donations, but some students say that campus isn’t necessarily a good place to collect charitable donations.

Patrick Jones, marketing sophomore, said although he thinks the food drive is a good idea, not everyone on campus can be as generous as they want to be.

He said he doesn’t really have any food he can afford to give away and even if he did, he wouldn’t want to carry it all the way from his house to school.

Other students said they have a variety of reasons to donate.

Eric Larsen, finance and nonprofit management junior, said the food drive will help Carlson students fight their image of being “stuck-up and all about the money.”

“People will see Carlson students giving to charity and being more conscious of the world around them,” he said.

Finance senior Nick Lindberg said he plans to donate because he wants to help out people in need.

He said he’ll probably bring in some macaroni and cheese or chicken noodle soup – “not the reject stuff, but high-quality stuff.”

Lindberg said he has helped gather donations for other food drives and was surprised by the weird stuff some people give. The worst canned good he remembered seeing was pork brains.

“I wouldn’t want to eat pork brains and I don’t think other people would, either,” he said.